Auctions are a small portion of the market, but I still…

…find it interesting that CB is looking to develop this option in Florida.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I heard auctions make up a large portion of the market in some countries (like Australia).  My take is that the real benefit of an auction model is that in a down market an agents could pretty much guarantee a sale for owners who feel under the gun to sell.

45 Things I Learned at RE Connect

(some names left anonymous to protect the innocent)

  1. There’s a hell of a lot of VC money floating around this industry. I was surprised at how many people there were with lots of VC funding. Joel seemed to notice the same thing: “a whole new crop of real estate search sites that are going to be hitting the market”
  2. Reporter from the REALTOR Magazine was in the audience of our presentation. (thanks to Ines for pointing out the story: NAR is opening their eyes to blogging.)
  3. Zillow dropped their beta tag.
  4. Zillow’s big press release (picked up by many others) was a case of “make-news”. I’d be worried for their business if they weren’t making the improvements they announced (adding more listings, improving the quality of Zestimates, dropping beta, etc.). Joel doesn’t write much about of the improvements, while Greg quotes it extensively and seems to gush about their RETS announcement, which even the Zillow team pulls back from in the comments.
  5. Trulia was profitable for at least one month last year expects to be profitable at some point this year.
  6. According to comScore, Trulia had more traffic than Zillow in December! (Congrats Mike on the awesome prediction)
  7. comScrore and Hitwise are measuring traffic on two different internets. (Hitwise shows Trulia with 1.45% of category traffic and Zillow with 2.28%).
  8. Also interesting from the Hitwise report is that Move.com moved from #2 to #5, while RE/Max moved from #2 to #5. That’s big enough news where I would have expected to see a Press Release. Realtor.com at #1 and Move.com at #2 is huge for Move, Inc., even if it is only for December. (Oddly, I’m getting all the Hitwise numbers for December from an Inman Blog article on my feedreader. The actually article was removed from their site for some reason, so maybe the numbers are butchered!)
  9. Vast.com acquired Adaptive Real Estate Services (ARES). (That answers one question, although it does not give me any confidence that Vast.com has thought out their listing content acquisition strategy)
  10. Lots of neighborhood projects coming out. Here’s my (unsolicited) advice to anyone looking to build a successful social network in this space. If you really want consumer adoption, you’ve got to have a clear answer to this question: “What’s the consumer benefit?” So, so, so many of the “social networks” I saw this week were focused around real estate professionals. ActiveRain was an anomaly. Be able to explain your consumer proposition clearly, or don’t expect success.
  11. With that said, VillageMaker from RealProSystems will likely be a success… in that agents will the product, not in the sense that consumers will use it. This is the ultimate social network with the real estate professional at the center of the transaction in that a real estate agents must invite consumers to this platform. Sounds great, except it won’t work for all but a few agents.
  12. I am now the owner of “all the marbles”.
  13. Google staff really don’t like it when you take pictures inside their offices. Don’t be evil (Jay noticed this too!)
  14. Saul Kline is still the same great guy even after becoming CEO of Point2. (Frances has photos). His stated approach for moving Point2 forward is sound, although I’ll let him explain that approach when he’s ready.
  15. Lots of start-ups are twisting and turning to think how they an make their products more REALTOR friendly in the hopes of catching some Second Century funding! Mark Lesswing is a popular man at these conferences.
  16. I was surprised how many tech start ups get funding with only the roughest plans to get listings. Teresa gets that this is a mistake!
  17. Trulia launched their Publisher Platform. Robbie loves this! I can’t tell what Joel thinks… and Greg pans the service. I don’t follow Greg’s logic that it weakens overall traffic to Trulia… Mainly because nobody in the online real estate space has enough market penetration to think there are a finite number of users for their services. Trulia needs more listings. If this helps convince more brokers that they need to send their feeds to Trulia, then it is a good move. (Joel has an example of what the branded service looks like on FOREM)
  18. I really liked one startup and can’t wait until they launch in a little bit because I want to see how they market themselves. The product is an (solid) incremental improvement on search, but I don’t think it is enough of an improvement to go viral on its own.
  19. The beer for bloggers event is a great way to start off a conference. (photos on the Zillowblog and Sellsius).
  20. Teresa has some great photos from the week, including this action shot of me. Dito for Jeff.
  21. The WellcomeMat boys are quite the fun crowd. I really want to see them succeed because the technology is top-notch. Next step for them is figuring out a way so that their users don’t have to do their own marketing. If uploaded listing videos were getting hundreds (or even dozens), I think they’d be well on-their-way to being a a must-have product for most agents.
  22. I’m more bullish after RE Connect on Altos Research.
  23. Drew found a way to work at RE Connect. I’m not sure how he pulled it off.
  24. Professor Nouriel Roubini didn’t show up to RE Connect with the idea of making a lot of friends. He was consistently vocal in his belief that the downside to this market is going to be HUGE. He made Noah look like a moderate! (Here’s the video!)
  25. While I didn’t plan to go to many of the sessions, I surprised myself by going to only one session (see previous comment).
  26. I LOVE NYC.
  27. While I enjoy writing the occasional update, I’m simply not a good twitterer. On the other hand, Daniel is the twitter man.
  28. Apparently, there is a $15B dollar opportunity in the online real estate space since I heard multiple people throw that number around.
  29. Rumor has it that Cyberhomes is going to spend a LOT of money on advertising this year in order to reach out to consumers. This is a change from my take on their original approach in that they were going to focus on reaching out to agents by offering them a “white-label Zillow”. I like Marty Frame a lot, but I don’t think ads will do the trick. I hope they have one-more thing up their sleeve.
  30. Kris Berg is always lovely. Offline or online, she is one of my favorite people in the RE.net.
  31. Jay Thompson is another one that I found to be just as great in person. Networking with people like him is the reason to travel to NYC.
  32. The business mind of Damen Pace doesn’t stop moving.
  33. Rudy has some mad video editing skills.
  34. Daniel is the video man! It’s obvious he loves this stuff.
  35. As one would expect, Lockhart is quickly growing his team at Curbed and it was a lot of fun to meet them at the NYT party. From what I saw, Lockhart tried to dampen expansion rumors. He would only talk about Chicago at this point.
  36. BofA bought Countrywide. Lots of commentary on Jillayne’s post on RCG and Brian Brady’s post on Bloodhound.
  37. Redfin’s PR about returning $10M to consumers didn’t do much for me. I’ll be more interested to find out when they start making business model changes in order to get profitable.
  38. People have begun calling Rain City Guide “Ardell’s Blog” behind my back! LOL!
  39. Inman will soon be launching a new website with new features and a new design.
  40. Up Yours! Video TV war! Intothebox.tv rips on BrokerIPtv.com (around second 40). Not to take sides, but I was interviewed by the BrokeIPtv team at RE connect, and will be interested to see what comes out of that. On the other side, Rachel of Intothebox is oddly interesting… In watching, I just keep waiting for something to fall or break.
  41. I could never repeat linkation too many times. I keep repeating myself and people continue to act like it is new information. Please tell me if and when I need to stop with the linkation bit. 🙂
  42. ActiveRain introduced a few new people from their team. Rumor was that they have some funding that they will announce soon.
  43. Brendan King and other ex-Point2 folks were passing out business cards with the company name VendAsta. My guess is that the name is only temporary.
  44. Greg Tracy has branched out the BlueRoof brand to start doing consulting and website building for other real estate professionals. He “gets it”, so I can only imagine further success ahead.
  45. I really do enjoy just about everyone in the RE.net and real estate tech communities. 2008 is going to be fun!

Phew! Now I think I’m caught up so that I can get back to regular updates!

I may have found the Tellar in Zillow’s Cellar!

Out of curiosity about a fellow panelist at the CB event, I did a google search on Jorritt Van der Muelen, it brought back a few blasts from the past… Anyone else remember when Rob McGarty (pre-Redfin days) was talking about Zillow’s application to patent an auction marketplace around real estate listings? Well, the Google Search on Jorritt turned up the patent application from the Zillow team for the auctioning of real estate listings.

I’m not experienced in reading patent applications, but here is what I was able to gleam:

  • Lots of big players from the Zillow team are on the patent. They include Spencer Rascoff (CFO), Scott Bekemeyer (now with ZipRealty), Lloyd Frink (President), Kristin Acker (VP Product & Design), Jorritt Van der Muelen (VP Partner Relations), and Chloe Harford (Dir Strategic Planning).
  • They claim their invention does 23 novel things.
  • My reading of the patent reviewer’s response (download it here) is that he thinks all but 3 of the claims are too obvious to patent. The only thing that the patent reviewer finds worthy is their idea that they could use a phone to call in auction bids, which appears to be pretty tangential to their idea.

Similar to the patent reviewer, I don’t find the process described in the patent application to be very interesting. It might help if I had access to the diagrams and figures described, but that is neither here nor there…What makes the patent interesting is that it shows that very early on the team put quite a bit of thought into how Zillow could play a central role in the real estate transaction.

I’m included to think that Zillow has probably dropped this idea completely in order to retain the support of real estate professionals (the bulk of their potential advertisers). However, that is just speculation. It’s also conceivable that Zillow may be distracting us with the rumors of a mortgage product so that they can continue to amass listings from brokerages before they unleash an auction tool that will allow consumers to buy and sell properties directly from their website.

Zillow pillow

If you think realtor.com dominates real estate search today, then…

…I would concur that realtor.com might dominate real estate search in 2008.    But dominate is WAY too strong of a word because no one dominates real estate search today.

To dominate a market, I’d think you’d have to have something approaching at least 50% market share…  Let’s use eBay as an example (the numbers are a bit dated, but make a valid point)…  Of the 68.4M unique users that visited auction sites in Feb ’06, 66.6M of those users visited eBay.  That means eBay capture over 97% of the market!  That’s dominance!

With under 10% of online real estate traffic, there is considerable upside for realtor.com in it’s quest to dominate the market.

Up… Up… Up… ARES Action ends with michaeldm..

…attempting to outbid klaws well into the final hour.   However, it appears (if I understand the term “proxy” right) that klaws bid a huge number early on and no one else ever matched his high bid:

ARES Auction

Interesting to note that in the final two hours the price rose by more than 100K!

Congrats klaws!

Now we know what happens to ARES… Or do we?  A few simple google searches didn’t turn up anything on the winner. Any ideas?

What happens to Adaptive Real Estate Services? Part 2

Now that no one wanted to pay the $150K minimum bid (click on the pink box that says “Adaptive Real Estate Assets”), I’m once again curious, what is going to happen to Adaptive Real Estate Systems?

If someone wants a company with $12k/month revenue stream, 57 MLS IDX feeds (approximately 1.3M listings), the price just got a lot cheaper.   Although it is interesting that the original owners, who presumably cashed out at a much higher level don’t think it is a business worth buying at that price.